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Firefighter invents door wedge, marker

The firefighter-developed tool will assist firefighters during interior search and rescue operations

Seeing that firefighters were forgetting to mark and wedge doors, an Iowa firefighter took to inventing a tool to fix that problem. And it’s called the Big Wig.

It’s a very simple, yet vital step, Firefighter Eli Voss said. But despite that, many of his brothers and sisters were overlooking it.

In charge of training at the Davenport (Iowa) Fire Department, Firefighter Voss said he noticed a concerning development.

“We noticed a major trend,” he said. “No one was marking or wedging doors, so I started asking people why they didn’t do it. The answer was consistent: there was nothing good to mark and wedge doors with.”

Firefighters explained that using chalk wasn’t the safest option because it could disintegrate from the heat and other alternatives just didn’t measure up.

“When we do a search, we are taught to wedge a door open, that way if you open it and it shuts on you, you can’t be trapped,” Firefighter Voss said.

Knowing how important marking and wedging doors is, Firefighter Voss set out to create a tool that firefighters could easily use to mark and wedge.

After some planning, he came up with the Big Wig. It looks something like a heavy-duty crayon, and in a sense it is.

Equipped with a glow-in-the-dark plastic body, the bulk of the Big Wig can be used as the wedge. The overhanging hook can be hung over the lowest hinge of the door, while the marking device at the bottom can be used to mark the door. The hook can also be used on garage doors.

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If the marking device’s crayon happens to run out or break, the Big Wig can be unscrewed and refilled, Firefighter Voss said.

“Firefighters can go room to room with just one Big Wig and search several rooms on their own,” he said.

Firefighter Voss, a firefighter for 13 years, said his background with the department and especially being part of their training team really helped to refine the Big Wig.

“It helped so much being on the training department. It gave me insight into the need and made it so much easier to think ‘everyone is not doing well in this area. How can we fix that?’” he said.

The Big Wig can be bought here.